No Place Too Low for God | Kerygma Online

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No Place Too Low for God
by Bo Sanchez

      “Bro. Bo, I have not seen my father smile at me,” the young woman tells me.

Now in college, she has spent her whole life trying to win her father’s approval. She has tried to do well in school so that she could make her father smile.

One time, she got high grades, so she ventured to show her report card to her father. She tiptoed toward him and, with hands shaking, gave him her card. “Dad, here’s my report card,” she said, then quickly went out of the room but peeped in through the door, hoping to see him pleased.

But she was disappointed. Not even a smile or a nod from him to indicate he was happy with her grades.

All her life, she has wondered why her father doesn’t smile at her. When he’s with his friends, he smiles at them but never once at her.

So I start asking her about her spiritual life.

She says, “God seems so distant to me.”

Aha! I put two and two together and I tell her, “Perhaps the way you see your father has become the way you see God.”

Yes, she sees her father as distant, stoic, hard to please, never ever smiling. So that’s her image of God, too — distant, serious, someone too high for her to reach.

Hard to believe, but it’s true.

Friends, this is my mission: to get people to have a positive image of God. I believe one’s image of God is the basis for one’s spiritual growth. Many people don’t grow in their spiritual life because their image of God is wrong.

If you see God as judgmental, you become judgmental, too.

If your image of God is legalistic, you end up like one, too.

We become the image of the God that we adore.

And not only that — your picture of God affects your family.

If you’re a father, your parenting techniques are affected by the image of God in your heart. It would be a blessing to your children if you have the correct image. But just think if it’s the opposite. Your children will inherit from you your wrong image of God and will pass the same image on to their children, and then to their children’s children.

Sources of Our Image of God
So where did we get our image of God? There are two sources:

1. Our Parents

The primary source of our image of God is our parents.

I know a father who is always angry. When he wakes up in the morning, he barks at his wife, “Where’s my breakfast?!” And then, “Give me the newspaper!”

Does that sound familiar to you? Or maybe the father is an absentee father.

What happens to the children of such parent?

They fear their father and avoid him. Or they try to reach out to an unreachable father.

And then they begin to project that image onto God.

So later in life, they wonder, “Why does God seem so distant, so unreachable?” Or, “Why does He seem to be mad at me all the time?”

There are exceptions, of course, but more often than not, we see God the way we see our parents.

2. Our Religious Leaders

A second influence on how we have shaped our image of God is our religious leaders.

When I was a teenager, we had a German parish priest. He was old — maybe he was 80 at the time. He was all wrinkles and a little deaf.

I remember one time I went to him for confession. I approached the confessional box with my heart thumping and my knees trembling. And then in a quivering voice, I said, “Father, bless me for I have sinned…. My sins are….”

“Louder!”

“Father, I fell into pornography.”

“What did you say? Speak up!”

“Pornography, Father,” I screamed so loud, I think the entire church heard my abomination.

“Adultery?”

“No, no, Father. Pornography.”

“What? Polygamy?” I’m exaggerating, but it sort of went like that.

Sometimes when you have a religious leader like that, it’s easy to say, God must be like him — an old surly man who’s all wrinkles and deaf.

On the other hand, there are some leaders of communities who are controlling. They use guilt to manipulate their members into obeying them.

When you have a leader like that, your image of God is one who is manipulative, too.

Let me give you another classic case. I was invited to give a talk in a prayer community. A member came in late. Two leaders had different reactions.

Let me give you another classic case. I was invited to give a talk in a prayer community. A member came in late. Two leaders had different reactions.

The other leader said, “Bro, is there a problem? What happened? Why are you late?”

And the member said, “My child is sick and I had to go to the drugstore to buy her medicines.”

See the difference? The first leader focused on how the member has to behave. The other leader focused on the member’s concern and cared about what happened to him.

This difference creates a lot of impact in the member’s image of God and His love for him.

You know, I have one luxury that I’ll never ever give up. It is this: The moment I begin to pray, I see my God rushing towards me in love. I see my God exploding with joy, coming towards me with full delight and saying, “My son, it’s good for you to be here.”

That’s my image of God. Alas, many people do not have that image.

When they begin to pray, they already feel guilty. They imagine God telling them, “So, you found the time to pray! Let me see — oh, you have a very dirty heart! It’s full of sin!”

That’s how they feel when they pray. They feel so small in front of an angry God. I’m not saying that sin is not real; it is, but God is more interested in loving you than seeing your sins.

Transformation comes when you realize you are so loved by God, when you are overwhelmed by His love that you would not want to offend Him.

No Place Too Low for God

You have probably read in the Bible about the Samaritan woman and her encounter with Jesus at the well (John 4:3-42).

The Samaritan woman had three walls between her and God.

One wall was that she was a woman. In those days, men were not supposed to be talking to women in public. In their culture, a woman is supposed to be a man’s property. Thus, it was below the dignity of a man to regard woman as his equal.

But here was Jesus, approaching the Samaritan woman, speaking to her in broad daylight. In doing so, He raised the woman’s dignity.

The second wall was that she was a Samaritan. In the people’s eyes at the time, Jews were first class citizens, the chosen people of God. The second class citizens were the Gentiles. And the third class were the Samaritans because they were offspring of Jews and Gentiles. Jews and Gentiles did not speak to Samaritans, but Jesus did.

The third wall was that the woman was an outcast. This was Sycar, a small town of maybe just about 40 families. Everybody knew this woman had five husbands. Yes, she was adulterous and in those days, you did not mingle with such a woman. When she walked through the streets, people whispered and avoided her.

So as not to suffer humiliation, the woman went out when there was hardly a soul on the street. Usually, as we read in the Bible, this was on the sixth hour. The first hour was 6 a.m. so the sixth hour was 12 noon, when people were having lunch. So nobody was at the well.

And here was Jesus, not only speaking to the woman, but even asking her, “Give me a drink.”

The woman just had the shock of her life!

Twenty-first century Christians might say, “What’s the big deal? What’s the significance of the Lord’s act?”

You see, in those days, when you asked someone for a drink, it meant you share cups. Remember, Jews and Samaritans didn’t talk to each other. And definitely, they didn’t share cups. For the Jew, when he touches a cup that has been touched by a Samaritan, he becomes ritualistically unclean for worship.

So when Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “Give me a drink,” He was not just asking for water. In their culture, He was actually saying, “May I be your friend?

In the same manner that the woman had walls between her and Jesus, today there are people who have walls between them and God. These can be walls of failure, weakness, sins — walls that hinder them from being one with God.

But Jesus broke through the walls that separated him from the Samaritan woman. We have a God who breaks all walls and says, “There is no place too low for me to reach, no place too far, no barrier too strong. I will look for you and pursue you, I will cross borders, I will break barriers. I will come to you, get close to you, look into your eyes, hold your hand, and say, ‘May I be your friend?’”

So friends, have you built up walls between you and God?

Remember, He loves you no matter what you are doing with your life. And no matter how many walls you have built, He will break through them, because He loves you.

Allow yourself to be overwhelmed by His love. And be transformed by that love.
(Email the author at bosanchez@kerygmafamily.com.)


Bo’s Action Steps:

1.Look within. What is your image of God? Is it a negative one? Check out why you have that image and consciously change it by allowing God’s love to heal you.

2.Reflect: What walls have you built between you and God?

3.In prayer, allow God to heal your negative image of Him. If needed, seek counseling to heal you.


 

*This article was taken from Kerygma magazine February 2009 issue. If you want to subscribe to K magazine click here or call us at 725-9999. 

 

Photo from pixabay.com

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